Our experience of the world is shaped by filters beyond our control—our families and friends, geographic locations, hobbies, jobs, culturesand much more not only give us our identities,they alsolimit our perspectives. We do, however, have choices about how we respond to those filters.
Author Tanner Colby’s book Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America explores the history of integration in the United States since the Civil Rights movement through the lens of his filters. A section of the book explores Kansas City and Johnson County’s historical use of real estate practices: redlining, blockbusting, and racially restrictive covenants. Race Project KC emerged after Colby's 2014 visits to Blue Valley North High School, Johnson County Community College, and Johnson County Library. Local educators and Library staff were inspired to extend his work into experiences for area teens.
Race Project KC, an annual immersive social justice initiative for students in grades 9 through 12 in the Kansas City metro area, aims to:
Build diverse student cohorts that represent schools from across the Kansas City region – urban, suburban, and rural.
Offer at least three workshops for at least three student cohorts.
Inform students of local & regional history so they understand how it relates to themselves, their schools, and their neighborhoods.
Offer students the opportunity to build up and demonstrate leadership skills through deliberative dialogue around identity, representation, inclusion, and storytelling.
Throughout the program students encounter each other, educators, subject experts, activists, artist, authors, and community organizations.